Glass Tile Mosaic Art – Mixing Grout

Making wonderful glass mosaic tile art is easy! Let me show you how.

The amount of grout for your mosaic project depends on two basic variables: 1) the size of your piece, and 2) the width of your joints. Obviously, smaller joints require less grout. It's important to mix more than you think you'll need to ensure you do not run out. This is especially true when using colored grout to ensure color consistency unless you intend for your piece to have varying shades of grout.

If you have a brand new box of grout, you'll probably use only a small portion of it. Do not dump the whole box into a bucket of water! If this is your first time grouting a mosaic, put what you think is enough into your mixing container and then add at least half that amount (ie, mix about 1.5 times what you think you need). When you're finished grouting, observe how much you throw away so you can better estimate how much you'll need for your next project.

The first rule of mixing grout is to read and follow safety precautions on the bag and then read and follow the label instructions. After reading the bag's label, go somewhere away from your mosaic so you do not splash wet grout on it while mixing (eg, go outside or to the opposite end of the garage). Scoop enough grout powder into your mixing container. Slowly add small amounts of water and mix using a paint stirring stick. Some grout brands are "polymer modified," which means acrylic latex has already been added to the powder. If the grout already contains the additive, the bag says in easy-to-read print, "polymer modified" or similar words. If the grout does not already contain the additive, then you may choose to mix the grout with an admixture instead of water. I never bother adding acrylic latex for my indoor mosaics. Plain hose water works just fine for me.

Add small amounts of water at a time and thoroughly mix it. Do not pour in all the water at once. Do not make the grout too runny by adding too much water. Take your time and mix in a little bit of water at a time. When it's almost at the right consistency, just a teaspoon more water can be too much. So, take your time.

Do not make the grout too runny. This is important so let's say it again together, "Do not make the grout too runny." I use thick, pasty grout because it's easier to wipe off without digging into the joints. The technical reason for not making it runny is that too much water makes the grout weaker and more impossible to staining. So, thicker is better. My favorite consistency is like thick toothpaste or cookie dough (that's thick toothpaste, not runny toothpaste). Some books say to make it like pudding or mayonnaise, but that's too thin for me.

After thoroughly mixing the grout, I use the paint stirring stick to scoop some up and hold it over the container. If it drips off the stick into the container, then it's way too thin. I like it so it stays in place on the stick and does not droop or sag.

If you accidently pour in too much water and make the grout too runny, simply add a little more grout powder to thicken it. Add just a teaspoon of grout powder at a time. A small amount of grout powder can change it from runny to just right. If you add too much grout, it'll be too thick and then you'll have to add a few drops of water to thin it. You'll be taught in an endless loop of adding grout to thicken it, then adding water to thin it. So, add small amounts. After your first grout job, you'll get a feel for how much to add, so it'll be easier the next time you do this.

When you get the right consistency, thoroughly mix the grout to ensure there's no residual powder and no lumps. I like to wipe the sides of the container with the paint stirring stick to get all the powder off the sides. I do not like any unmixed powder anywhere in the container.

Remember, making mosaic art is easy. You can do it. Yes, you can!

An Interview With Yeva Babayan – Artist

She designed one of the first campaigns for major fashion label, Juicy Couture and has side fascination with metaphysics. Just your typical California girl … or not. Graphic designer, Yeva Babayan brings a touch of exotic class to her edgy illustrations. Check out the interview from this bright young artist!

Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from and where are you living now?

I was born and raised in Armenia during the Soviet Union era, came to America at the age of 10 and has been happily living in Glendale California ever since. Frequently I fantasize of living in New York, but the weather keeps pulling me back to Cali.

At what age did you begin illustrating? And when did it become a profession?
I honestly believe I started illustrating while still in my mother's womb. I knew from a very young age that art, in whatever form, would be my profession. In high school I attended the Pasadena Art Center College of Design art program and decided then to apply to their graphic design program. A great way to produce commercially viable work infused with illustration.

What people (artist or otherwise), places or things inspire you, and how? Salvador Dali has always been my greatest inspiration. His work is very metaphysical and never ending, there are endless worlds in one painting, up for infinite interpretations, which in turn makes it timeless.

Essentially I'm mostly inspired by nothingness, and the phenomenon of rising forms within the nothingness. I usually create best when I stop thinking and let things flow, with no control or premeditation, then whatever comes out I build on. Seemingly insignificant things yield the grandest inspirations.
I'm also inspired by ancient civilizations, African tribes, their traditions, languages ​​and body art.

Are you professionally trained or were you self taught?
I think an artist intuitively possess all the skills they will ever need to create. I've gone through classes in college that teach the "appropriate" way to hold a brush or use certain tools, but I do not think art or creation can really be taught because it's so personal. A teacher can pass on their technical skills, experience and views, but you are 'own best teacher, and in that respect I'm self taught.

What are your most used 'tools of the trade' (ie markers, pens, etc)
At the moment I love watercolors. It's one medium that carries a lot of freedom and can be used with the least amount of control, which is something I'm a big fan of.

The infamous black ink pen has always been one of my favorite tools. But overall, I think the project dictates the tools to be used. One time I accidently left a cup of Yerba Mate tea on the stove and was too lazy to clean it up, the next morning when it was all dry, it looked amazing, so for a week I was obsessed with painting with tea.

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on a series of paintings exploring the composition of the human body as it is constructed out of the predominant thought patterns a person holds. This is a personal project.

Can you tell us a little more about your 'Juicy Couture' pieces?
It was amazing working on this project as the brand was just taking off and there was no point of reference as far as "keeping on brand", which has given me a total freedom to do whatever I wanted. The only thing I had to work with was the brand slogans, other then that it was complete mayhem. At the time they were my dream client! Each poster was born out of my interpretation of the slogans, and each interpretation would spring out of the most random things I would hear, see, feel and encounter that day.

What are your other interests beside art?
I love metaphysics, and read everything I can get my hands on. The human mind and the possibilities of it's use have always fascinated me. Foreign cinema and discovering new music is definitely a favorite pastime. Traveling and eating is something I love to indulge in as well, I'm a total foodie.

What is the worst parts of being a full time, working artist?
Well, the worst is realizing that at times the work flow can be so overwhelming that it seems my entire life is spent in the confines of my studio while there is a whole world out there to see and discover. I get a little claustrophobic, then get over it and dive back into the work.

And the best?

The best part is doing what you love and getting paid for it. The work is never repetitive and its beautiful to always be faced with a new challenge to solution. New ways to look at things, and know that what I'm doing is in some way touching or influencing another's life.

Any advice to up and coming artists?
Do not ever compromise your vision.

And there you have it, thanks for your contribution Yeva! We hope to see more of you.

Art Deco Chandeliers

Art deco chandeliers are products of an art style that originated in the 1920's. Its origins lie in Europe until it spread in other parts of the world such as the United States.

The term Art Deco came from the World Fair held in Paris in 1925. The fair was officially titled Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. For years, Paris remained the center of Art Deco style. From this place came popular Art Deco designers like furniture maker Jacques Emile Ruhlmann and metal artist Jean Dunand.

True to its name, art deco chandeliers reflect the characteristic of materials that characterize the Art Deco style. Among the materials that make up such chandeliers are aluminum, stainless steel, inlaid wood and lacquer.

Designs of Art Deco chandeliers also resemble typical patterns reflected in Art Deco paintings. These chandeliers typically have sweeping curves in its design. The sunburst motif is also a famous example of an Art Deco chandelier design.

Because Art Deco was originally associated with elitism, Art Deco chandeliers have been a favorite feature of royal gathering places and churches. Their antique look and large sizes match the high ceilings and rusty posts of such establishments.

In the United States, Art Deco lightings came to birth during the 1930's, when buildings inspired by the art movement were established. Examples of these are the Chrysler Building and the Radio City Music Hall. Both are located in New York City.

Today, Art Deco chandeliers are readily available as a form of modern chandeliers. Sample pictures, complete with prices and shipping charges, are available in several websites of chandelier stores. Some stores also offer custom design packages for buyers who want to implement their own touch to readily available Art Deco chandelier design templates. With the help of the store artist, they can come up with their own version of an Art Deco chandelier.

Together with chandeliers inspired by other periods in history, Art Deco chandeliers have indeed widened the selection of homeowners and interior designers alike.

Gardening Tools

What exactly is a gardening tool? It is any tool made for working in gardens, and overlaps with use in horticulture and agriculture. Some of the earliest tools used by man were the spade, the garden hoe, pitchfork, garden fork, rake and a plough. Most of the tools in the earliest of agriculture times were made from wood, bone and flint.

Later on, tools were made from copper, iron and steel, which enabled the farmers to have more durable tools. With the emergence of industrial metal working came the manufacturing of cutting tools, like pruning shears and grass shears.

With the dawn of power tools a whole new line of items became available. Tools such as cultivators, string trimmers, hedge trimmers, leaf blowers, leaf sweepers, lawn aerators, irrigation sprinklers, mini tractors and of course the lawn mower.

Although lawn mowers are not necessarily considered a garden tool as most people look at it, it is something gardeners depend on to keep the grounds looking nice and trimmed.

Depending on the type and size of your garden you could use a variety of these tools. If you are taking care of a flower garden, you may need a hoe, rake, grass shears or even a spade for planting or moving things around. Rose gardens, may require pruning shears for cutting back roses at the appropriate time, so that they bloom again. For large vegetable gardens a tractor, with a plow and cultivator maybe necessary as well as a garden hoe and a rake.

Other tools or things that might be considered as tools are the fertilizer and feeds or weed killers that you may have need of at any point in the life of the garden. Law sprinklers or irrigation systems could also be considered as tools of the trade. Granted you may not need the sprinklers that you see in fields where the power of the water turns the wheels and waters acres and acres at a time.

No matter the size of the type of garden you have or are planning, you can locate most tools needed for the job at any hardware store, or any store that has a garden department. Lowe's, The Home Depot, Walmart, Ace Hardware and probably any local feed store if you live in the country can provide you not only with the tools to start or work your garden, but the seeds, seedlings and fertilizer you need to get it in the ground.

Even with tools gardening is hard back breaking, knee bending, and a lot of times hot work. So why do people do it? For stress relief, for the pure pleasure of making something grow and maybe even to feed their family.

Toro Snow Shovels – The Easiest Way To Remove Snow Safely For City-Living Urban Dwellers

If you live in the city, Toro snow shovels is the best equipment to get for clearing snow in the winter. The shovel recommended below sells out quickly once snow is in the forecast, so get ready early, ahead of everyone else.

Here are five (5) major reasons for city residents to use a power shovel, and where to get the best deal.

  • Electric – The Toro Power Shovel runs on electricity. No need to run out for gas in the middle of a snowfall. You'll be ready whenever snow hits the ground.
  • Compact – This power shovel is much smaller than a typical snow thrower. You can store it easily in a closet or hanging on a wall.
  • Easy – This equipment is easy for anyone to use. It weighs less than 13 pounds, so you can lift, twist and carry it around easily and clear snow at the touch of a button. You can also adjust the height and angle of the handle making it comfortable to operate for all sizes.
  • Fast – You'll save time removing snow with a power snow thrower compared to manually removing snow with a shovel. Clear your steps and pathways fast and get on with your day.
  • Safe – Using a regular snow shovel and manual labor is fair to injury and backaches. Winter conditions and ice also adds to your risk of injury. Keep you and your family safe, and let this power tool do the hard work for you.

Where to get the best deal?

Like many products today, the best deals are found online. And due to its popularity and reputation, you may find Toro snow shovels are out-of-stock when you need one. Get yours now before snow hits the ground in your area.

Surprising Healthier Lifestyle Choices You Can Make

If you're thinking about making healthier lifestyle choices, it's could be time to be a case of out with the old and in with the new! So here are some surprisingly easy ways you can improve your well-being and make your habits the healthiest ones ever!

Drink Coffee to Boost Your Mood

We hear a lot about the negative health effects of caffeine, but let's not forget that it has its good points too! There is a link between moderate coffee consumption and improved mood. So if you're feeling like those dark clouds are setting in, try a cup of coffee or two!

Chew Gum to Make You More Alert

Most of us have fallen victim to that afternoon slump, especially after a busy morning in work. But did you know that chewing mint flavored gum can help to make you feel more awake, reduce feelings of tiredness and improve your concentration levels? It can also work as a stress reliever too!

Stand More and Live Longer

Office workers, beware! Sitting for prolonged periods of time can put you at a higher risk of back pain, heart disease, diabetes and a host of other health problems. It's simple, if you want to give yourself a better chance of a longer life, sit less and stand more! When you're at work, try to introduce five minutes of physical activity every hour and make sure you take regular breaks away from your desk or workstation. Small changes like taking the stairs instead of the lift will also make a big difference to your health.

Stay Clean

Taking money out from a cash machine is something we usually do without thinking too much about it. But do you wash your hands afterwards? Cash machines have been known to contain the same sickness causing bacteria found in some public toilets. You would not touch a toilet seat without scrubbing your hands, would you?

Think Positive

The mind and body are very closely connected, so it's important to think positive. The stresses of life can cause some people to suffer from a low mood, so make sure you do the things that help you to keep thinking positively. Join a class, visit friends, de-clutter the house – anything that keeps your mind in good spirits. The happier you feel, the healthier you'll be!

It's never too late to make healthier lifestyle choices. A few small changes can make a significant positive difference to your health and well-being.

Here's to good health!

How to Craft an Excellent Elevator Pitch

“Notes of crushed rocks, honeysuckle, lemon oil, orange marmalade, and white pear provide a stunning aromatic display as well as palate impression. Great acidity and huge flavour intensity backed up by vibrant acidity make this an exquisite Champagne”

This tasting note introduces and describes one of the most loved Champagne in the world – Dom Perignon 1996. Now think about this – What words are you using to introduce and describe the “Brand You”? What is your “elevator pitch”?

We use some form of it at least couple of times every day. In a professional world, which is heavy on Business Networking, we meet and are being introduced to new people every day. And each time we answer the inevitable questions – Who are you? What do you do? etc. In other words – we ‘deliver’ our “Elevator Pitch”. Something which we would say with few words just enough to last an elevator ride.

In the last few years I have used different versions of this pitch and experienced different reactions. On the basis of these observations, I have realized that giving the right elevator pitch comes down to two main points.

1. How do you want the other people to remember you?

The first line of your introduction is often the one which is most remembered by people. It is really up to you to determine how do you want the people to remember you? What do you wish to be associated with? Do you want it to be your company name, your work title or something that you have to offer? Whatever you say, you will represent the ‘brand – you’. So, choose wisely.

What would sound better of the two?

A. I am a Professional Training & Development Consultant.


B. I help professionals achieve their career goals by enhancing their career & professional skills from good to great!

I realized that in the past whenever I used option A, I would have to back it up with an explanation on the lines of option B. So, each time I would end up saying something which would amount to option A + B. This resulted in more lines, more time, and sometimes less attention. So, I figured why not just use the option B alone. Rest of the details are there on my card anyway! And it has always worked for me.

Another example to make this point clear. “I own a hair salon in Central”, as opposed to “I own a professional hair salon where the prime focus is to give you a relaxing, beautiful and complete well-being experience.”

It does not really matter which industry you are working in or at which role. You can apply this point to any situation. How you represent yourself will decide how people will remember you. Remove the details like title, company name or where you are from! And remove jargon! Plain simple English sounds really more impressive than CRM, KPI, and ROI!

2. How can you make a difference?

The second important point in your introduction should be to tell about, what is it that you have to offer? How can you make a difference with your work to them or the other people around you. Think about points like, what is unique about the work you do? Make it sound special and exciting. Do not just include the details of your work, company or responsibilities? Tell them what you will accomplish for them!

For example, “I work as a hair stylist” v/s “I am a specialist hair stylist with focus on elegant hair styles for significant occasions of your life like wedding, anniversaries, business events etc. I create a look which is perfect for that special and memorable day of your life!” If you were to choose between the two, I bet you will go with the one who used the second pitch. Isn’t it?

Remember, sometimes the packaging is as important as the gift you give. Package your talent, experience and expertise with the right words and you have won the deal!

Technical Writing – Definition of Boilerplate

From a tech writer’s POV, boilerplate is any text that can be reused (sometimes called re-purposed) in a number of different documents without much change from the original. It’s copy a client often supplies that includes information about an organization’s history, facilities, or capabilities. Since these things don’t change, or change very little, there’s no point reinventing the information every time it’s needed. All the writer has to do is update and refresh the boilerplate and put it in where it’s needed.

From a programmer’s POV, boilerplate is sections of code that have to be included in multiple places in a program with little or no change. It’s also used to refer to languages that are verbose; when a programmer has to write a lot of code to do a small job.

From a legal POV, boilerplate is a standard provision in a contract. It’s the reason that when you buy a house, the contract is twenty pages long, and you have to sign here, here, here, initial here, and sign here.

For the word nuts (like me) here’s a little history. The term goes back about a hundred years when things ran on steam power. Because of the high pressure inside a steam boiler, the steel had to be tough and thick. Anything big and strong was called boilerplate. About the same time, when printing was done with steel plates that could be used over and over, text that was going to be widely reproduced was called boilerplate. Newspapers, especially, used boilerplate so papers could be printed all over the country by just shipping the printing plates to each location.

Wood Pellet vs Corn Stoves: The Choice May be Out of Your Hands

The most popular alternatives for whole house or supplementary heating are corn and wood pellet fueled stoves. These appliances are easy to operate and the initial capital outlay is significantly less than solar, wind or geothermal systems.

A vital question to ask before you start evaluating the merits of pellet vs corn stoves should be: "Which fuel, corn or wood pellets, is the most readily available in my locale and therefore the cheapest to burn?"

For instance, in Massachusetts corn for fuel is essentially non-existent. The closest Agway store I contacted (3/2/06) had only eleven, 50 pound bags in stock at a price of $ 9 each or $ 360 a ton. Over the course of a New England heating season, a stove will consume 3 tons of fuel. If you compare this to $ 260 a ton for wood pellets from a well stocked Connecticut supplier, the wood pellet stove becomes your only choice.

Likewise, if you lived in Iowa, why would you buy a wood pellet stove?

In some regions of the country like Wisconsin and Minnesota there is an abundance of wood pellets and corn. According to the dealers I've surveyed, wood pellet stoves outsell corn stoves 2 to 1.

Wood pellet and corn stoves have much in common. They are comparably priced at around $ 2000 for a unit large enough to heat 1200 -15500 square feet, and share an efficiency rating of approximately 80%.

Please note: Since most house layouts do not allow the free movement of air through the house, a centrally located stove will not heat the whole house. If this is the case, size the stove to heat the room where the stove is located.

Both types of stoves require electricity to run fans, controls, and the auger that feeds corn or wood pellets into the stove's firebox. Under normal usage, they take about 100 kilowatt-hours (kWh) or about $ 9 worth of electricity per month. Without the stove has a back-up power supply, the loss of electric power results in no heat and possibly some smoke in the house.

In addition to weekly ash disposal, both corn fuel and wood pellet stoves need to be cleaned and inspected annually.

The storage of corn, as opposed to wood pellets, can be problematic. Owners of corn burning systems who store corn inside their homes need to use tight storage containers, clean up corn spills immediately, and avoid storing corn for long periods of time to prevent problems with rodents and stored grain insects.

A third option to consider is the multi-fuel stove. Typically they are advertised as corn stoves that also burn wood pellets or vice versa.

The # 1 stove with consumers that burns corn as well as wood pellets, is the Dansons Group Cheap Charlie Model HCCC2GD corn burning stove.

Installation of a Hardwood Floor Using Wide Planks

To install the wide-plank floor the supplies that are needed are the flooring boards, nails, a circular saw, quick square, and a hammer. If it is your first time installing a floor it takes about 14 hours to install the floor in a room that is 10 foot by 15 foot. If you are an experienced person, you can probably do the job in about 8 hours.

The wide plank floor boards are different from regular wood flooring because despite the length of the floor boards can have the tongue and groove notches like regular wood flooring, the ends do not. They are flat and get nailed into the floor joists. This meant that the first thing that I had to do when I wanted to install my new flooring was to get down to the sub-floor so that I could see where the joists were. Since my sub-flooring was plywood, I could tell where the joists were because of the nail pattern on the wood. I wanted the old-time look to my floor so I used cut nails that had square heads.

Wide plank floor boards have the draw back of expanding and contracting more than regular floor boards so they have to be nailed to the joists. The floor joists were 16 inches apart so placing the first board flush against the wall and corner, it had to be nailed to each of the joists. The nails needed to be at least 3/4 inch from the edge of the board to keep the individual boards from splitting. Each board is then aligned with the previous board with the wide-width lengths flush together.

When you reach the opposite wall, it may be necessary to trim the final length of wood to make it fit snugly. If you do not feel comfortable with this process, you may choose to cut away part of the jamb and slide the board underneath. This can be done with an undercutting saw and then using a screwdriver to remove the excess. Good luck and have fun!

Stair Railings Styles

The stair railing at home is more than a simple way to get from a floor to another. You can create an extension of your personal likes in decoration, with ornamental parts of wood, iron and other material easy to install that will increase the value of your home at the same time. If you think that the stair railing is one of the first tings that people see when they come in, you should think as well that, for building a new staircase or just a new remodeling, ask always for the advice and good service of a qualified person who will give you some good ideas for.

When something never goes out of style is unique. Choose wood stairs.

Nowadays there is a wide variety of materials to build a stair railing. Long time ago and still today …. houses had stairs wood railings, as wood is a nice material to work with. Especially beautiful are which are made of oak wood … with wonderful red color and knocks that are unmistakable. The star of the house will be an oak wood balustrade, without any doubt. If we try to match the color of the stairs with the wood flooring it will give beauty elegance to our homes. Although it can be a difficult task due to the many stair parts that we need to have in account to choose … like balusters, handrails, treads, and ornamental trim pieces.

On a staircase the first part we notice is the railing. It has its important use, one is to provide security for going up and down the stairs, and the other is to hold up the balustrade of the staircase. These elements must be kept in mind when the staircase is going to have a railing design. Unique, are wood railings. They are charm, grace, and soft, the perfect end for your house, improving the look of it and of course increasing the value of it. They are durable and strong. Wood is the choice that never goes out of style.

Oak wood, elegance and charm to your home.

The oak wood is generally used to build the stairs traditional commercial buildings such as libraries, office buildings and houses. It gives charm and elegance to any room whit its unmistakeable smooth and warm color. If you think that metal railroads can improve and give more style to your staircase, use it. They have many decorative options and display themselves beautifully. Lots of luxury and high homes are decorated with iron railings. They display grace, elegance and a special luxury. A style that nowdays is being used in most of the modern buildings all around the world. Iron railings are used for many residential and commercial staircases. They offer as which are made of wood, safety and functionality. Iron decorates your home. They have a wide variety of design, assuring that you will find a special one for display at home. The metal stair railing fit in any environment. What you need is just the good advice and work of a qualified person.

Is not an easy task but the results will give you satisfaction.

Making stairs can be very complicated. First priority in this type of project is to make it safe and functional. After it comes style. A few things, the rise between treads, the number of treads and the total run of the steps, the horizontal distance between bottom and the top of the stairs. Following these steps will assist you in creating a successful staircase. Be creative. Your inner spirit will help you on the creation of your stairs. Lots of styles, modern, traditional or contemporary. Spirit and design to have a work of art at home.

The Story in Your Staircase: The History of Wood Balusters

Whether they are called balusters, spindles, or wood columns – it does not change the fact that they are a wood product you frequently see but seldom think about. Today, columns, balusters, and spindles (all names for the same thing) can be metal, stone, or wood – but for the purpose of this article, we will focus on wood. Regardless of material, the variation available when it comes to manufacturing balusters speaks to their broad appeal and utility.

While balusters are popular wood products today, their story goes much deeper than that. They are also a piece of history. From the present day to antiquity, balusters, spindles, and wood columns have been molded and turned into the sleek and uniform shafts used for decoration, stability, and support in everything from the parapets of ancient fortresses to the stairways and porches of your own home .

The shape and style of balusters is rooted in the etymology of the word, which comes from the Italian word balaustra, meaning 'wild pomegranate flower'. Balusters were named this because of their resemblance to the half-open pomegranate flower.

While the etymology of the word points to Italian origins where balusters were historically popularized in the Renaissance, they actually date all the way back to the early Assyrian Palaces of ancient Mesopotamia. Here, they were used as window balustrades (a row of balusters). As time passed, even though balusters were generally overlooked by the Greeks and the Romans, they were brought into architectural prominence in the early Renaissance where they were used in balances of palaces in Venice and Verona, where they can still be found to this day.

Architectural historians can not credibly pinpoint an inventor of the modern baluster or column. However, much of the credit for the baluster's prominence goes to Giuliano da Sangallo, the architect of the Medici Villa in Tuscany. Because of the baluster's connection to the Medici family, it also received a great deal of exposure in the works of Michelangelo, which the family patronized for many years. With time, balusters also came to be referred to as columns and spindles.

For years, wood columns and balusters of all sizes and complexes have been used as porch posts, cabinet accents, newels, spindles, and railing supports. Today, Balusters continue to be used in these applications and more, in both homes and commercial buildings alike – providing the utility, appeal, and timeless aesthetic of balusters in general. So make a point to look around, you may notice the smooth flower-like shape of the baluster somewhere you never even realized, a piece of history in your daily life.

Different Materials Used in Balustrade and Handrails

There are a number of different materials that are used in balustrades and handrails. If the balustrade is external like fencing a terrace, roof or any open space then the material used is concrete. Concrete can stand up to the weather and will not get destroyed. There are a number of different designs that are used in making balustrades. The balustrades are usually cast in a shape using a mold. This is done so that all the balustrades look alike. A rail is fixed on top of the balustrades.

If the balustrades are to be placed inside a building, like lining a staircase ten different materials can be used. Usually hard word is used on balustrades that line a staircase. The handrail is also made out of wood. Another material that is used in balustrades and handrails is cast iron or wrought iron. Balustrades made from cast iron or wrought iron have a fancy design. The design is selected by the home owner or by the architect. The design depends on the theme of the building.

Polyurethane is also used nowdays to make balustrades and handrails. Cast stone, polymer stone and plaster is also used to make balustrades and handrails. In some buildings marble has also been used to make balustrades. Marble is very expensive and is only used in palatial buildings.

The use of wood has also reduced in making of balustrades and handrails. People have become conscious about saving the environment and therefore the use of wood is frowned upon by some people. The use of polyurethane and polymers has increased. The material is cheap and can be made into very nice designs for balustrades. Most modern buildings have polyurethane balustrades as they match the design of the building.

No one is quite sure about the history of balustrades and who first used them. The most common shape in balustrades has been the oblong shape which resembles an egg. Brass and bronze has also been used in balustrades and handrails. They require cleaning and polishing regularly and are very expensive. Brass is used in handrails as it has a shining golden color.

Some balustrades are painted with a motif to make them look interesting and to break the monotony. There are so many designs that are used in balustrades and some of them are quite simple. They may just be a series of straight pillows made of iron and topped with a wooden handrail. Or they may even have an iron handrail. Wooden balustrades may be carved with a design on them or they may just be a straight plank. People usually have wooden balustrades and handrails on the porch of their house.

The design of the balustrades and handrails depends on the design and architecture of the building or house. People usually do not give much thought to the design of balustrades and it's the architect who selects the design. The wood used in balustrades and handrails has to be well seasoned and should not warp or get misshapen or cracked. Wood has been the material that has been used the most for internal balustrades and hand rails in homes.

Tips For Decorating a Staircase

Some homeowners may not realize that a staircase is just another area of ​​their home that can be decorated to make the home appear stylish. Staircases are often overlooked when it comes to decorating, but depending on the layout of the home, the staircase may be more important than you think, especially if it is the first thing people see when they walk in. Here are some useful tips for decorating the staircase in your home.

Use Photographs to Decorate the Staircase

Frame a few of your favorite photographs and hang them up along the wall of the staircase. These photographs can be ones of your family or they can be of nature or other decorative objects.

Hang them so that they appear to be descending with the staircase. Be sure that the frames you choose complement the color of the wall. A good idea is to match the color of the stairs (if they are wood) to the color of the wood in the frames.

Paint a Mural or Design on the Staircase Wall

If you really want your staircase to stand out, then consider painting a mural or design that goes up the stairs. This could be as simple as a leaf or flower pattern that follows the stairs or it can be a larger and more intricate mural.

If drawing and painting are not your best skills there are stencils that you can use for the design or you can hire a professional painter to do the mural.

Add a decorative Banister to the Staircase

If you have a plain banister, look for a more decorative one that matches the style of your home. There are plenty of banisters to choose from depending on the type of stairs you have.

A new trend is to mix wood with wrought-iron for the stairs. This may go well with a Spanish style house or even a modern style home. Check out the pictures in home décor magazines or on the Internet for all the different styles that you can consider.

Lay Down a Decorative Runner on the Stairs

If you have wooden stairs you may consider laying down a decorative carpet runner to add more style. The carpet can be solid colored or, for a real attention getter, it can be patterned and multi-colored. Runners even work with staircases that are already carpted or tiled.

Choose a carpet runner that is slightly narrower than the width of the stairs so that the edges of the stairs show on the sides. There selection of runners is intensive so there should be no problem finding one that fits your staircase as well as it matches the style of the area.

For a home owner who has a staircase right in the entryway of their home, decorating those stairs is quite important. You want to be able to show off the staircase to its best advantage so that it does not look like an eyesore. You may even consider choosing more than one of these decorating ideas for your staircase in order to make it more appealing.